GNWT closes Aspen Apartments shelter services due to permit appeal

Yellowknife's sobering centre is now the only option for services during the day for homeless residents. (Photo by MyTrueNorthNow.com staff.)
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The GNWT has discontinued its makeshift day shelter service it had been running outside Aspen Apartments, leaving a number of patrons displaced.

The temporary day shelter, held at the Mine Resources building, was shut on May 31, leaving patrons of that shelter without anywhere to go. 

That shelter was set up because of the reduced capacity at the existing Sobering Centre, run by the NWT Disabilities Council, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The GNWT had set up temporary shower and food services outside of the Aspen Apartments buildings on 51 Street, but has since had to close those services. 

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An appeal filed with the city means the GNWT has to shut down until a review of the permit is completed.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services says when indoor COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, capacity restrictions will be lifted at the Sobering Centre on 50th Street, allowing more people to seek out services there.

Food and shower services are currently being offered at the Sobering Centre, but capacity issues are still in place.

In a press release from when the temporary day shelter was announced, the GNWT said 40 people had been displaced by reducing the capacity at the Sobering Centre.

The health department had shortlisted a vacant lot on 51st Street as a location for a new, permanent day and overnight shelter. The plan is for the space to accommodate 99 people in total, with 60 people able to use the day shelter at a time, as well as 30 overnight beds. 

Heath said the territory has money approved to build a new building. The timeline is hard to nail down though, says Heath, because of COVID-19. Work on an application for a permit on the building hasn’t started yet and the territorial government is still narrowing down its options.

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